St. Peter Catholic Academy has one of the longest and most complex histories when it comes to Catholic education in the Bensonhurst and Bath Beach area of Brooklyn—a history beginning with the local parishes. The neighborhood is home to five Catholic parishes. Three parishes collaborate to serve the school community: St. Finbar, St. Frances Cabrini, and St. Mary Mother of Jesus.
In 1913, Saint Mary Mother of Jesus parish opened a school under the direction of the Sisters of St. Joseph. However, almost 100 years later, enrollment was dropping and the parish knew they needed to initiate a change. Enrollment was also declining at the nearby Saint Frances Cabrini parish school, which was founded in 1967 and directed by the Sisters of St. Dominic. In an effort to strengthen Catholic education within the community, the two schools teamed up.
In 2006, St. Mary Mother of Jesus parish school and St. Frances Cabrini parish school teamed up to close their individual schools and re-open together as a new regional academy: St. Mary Mother of Jesus-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy. The new academy was housed in what was originally the St. Mary Mother of Jesus parish school building, but the academy served both parish communities under a new governance model. Ultimately, the pastor is in charge of a Catholic parish school but pastors needed more leadership assistance to direct both the school and their parishes. The new Catholic academy governance model is a two-tiered governance model comprised of a Board of Directors and a Board of Members.
A Catholic academy Board of Directors is composed of lay people who function as the main governing body of the academy. They select the principal and serve as an immediate supervising body. They are passionate about Catholic education and share their expertise in areas of finance, facilities management, institutional advancement, marketing and public relations.
A Catholic academy Board of Members is comprised of pastors from the parishes, the bishop and the diocesan superintendent of schools. Together, they function as prime sponsors of the academy. They appoint the Directors and ensure the overall Catholic identity of the academy and its programs.
Other Catholic schools still served the area for a few more years. St. Finbar parish school, founded in 1964, was directed by the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate or the Pallottine Sisters. Unfortunately, St. Finbar parish school closed in 2008 due to low enrollment. Most Precious Blood parish school, which opened in 1967 under the guidance of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, also closed in 2009.
From 2009-2013, St. Mary Mother of Jesus-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy was serving all of these local parish communities, including Saint Dominic which never had a school. The Board of Members now consisted of pastors from the aligned parishes and the Board of Directors realized it was appropriate to change the academy image.
In September 2013, the name St. Mary Mother of Jesus-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy was officially changed to St. Peter Catholic Academy in order to be relevant to all of the Catholic communities it served. It is also a little easier to say! The name Peter is known and esteemed by many. It both recalls the foundation of the Catholic faith and stands the test of time.
As of 2014, Most Precious Blood Parish is no longer affiliated with Saint Peter Catholic Academy and has been aligned with Our Lady of Grace Catholic School and in 2015 St. Dominic was aligned to St. Athanasius Parish. Saint Peter Catholic Academy is currently affiliated with the local parish communities of St. Finbar, St. Frances Cabrini, and St. Mary Mother of Jesus.
St. Peter Catholic Academy is still housed in what was originally the St. Mary Mother of Jesus parish school building and this year, enrollment is increasing. A century of history and traditions later, our focus to provide an excellent Catholic education for students remains. Our strong values and traditions assist us to teach new generations of students to grow in each stage of development with a proper sense of self-worth as a child of God and to make responsible decisions. Our mission is to continue to work toward academic excellence, enhancing the social and emotional skills of our students and recognizing that each student has unique God-given talents and skills.